FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
REBUILDING CENTER, PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, TRADES TRAINING GROUPS, CITY OFFICIALS, AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSELESS COMMUNITY CELEBRATE THE COMPLETION OF FOUR TINY HOUSES AT DIGNITY VILLAGE
Portland, OR (March 28th) – On April 4, the ReBuilding Center (RBC), trades training organizations such as Portland Youth Builders (PYB), Constructing Hope, and Oregon Tradeswomen (OTI), as well as members of the houseless community, city officials, community members, DPI Solar, and the Portland Trail Blazers, will be celebrating a major collaborative milestone—the completion of four tiny houses for the houseless at Dignity Village in Northeast Portland.
In 2000, Dignity Village was established as “a membership-based community in Northeast Portland, providing shelter off the streets,” where close to 60 Villagers work democratically to self-govern “with a mission to provide transition housing that fosters community and self-empowerment.”
Over the last couple of months, the ReBuilding Center, alongside trades training organizations, partners, volunteers, and Village residents, has been working to deconstruct some of the 15-year-old structures at Dignity Village that were plagued with leaky roofs, rotting wood, and mold, and were not secured with locks. Four new, insulated, and secure 8-by-14 structures have been built in their place with weather-resistant cedar and salvaged materials. About a third of the materials were donated by the ReBuilding Center, and the rest were funded by a couple members of the Trail Blazers community. Members of another houseless community, Hazelnut Grove, lent a hand to help Dignity Village construct the walls of all four houses.
The building process provided an opportunity for women, youth ages 17-24, people of color, and those exiting the criminal justice system to gain hands-on vocational skills while creating safe shelters that help residents achieve greater agency in their lives. “Some of these houses that people were living in were in terrible shape,” said one volunteer, “and the quality of their lives changed enormously in a positive way.” One of the Dignity Village couples that was able to move into their new home remarked, “It’s going to be so great to sleep on a mattress that isn’t wet.”
DPI Solar provided volunteer labor to install solar panels, which were affixed to each of the new homes with roof slopes designed to maximize solar capture. This technology aims to not only power Dignity Village, but also to become a net producer in the summer, allowing the Village to pass along excess energy to low-income users.
The Portland Trail Blazers helped coordinate the finances and the partnership with DPI Solar, saying about the project, “I am honored to bring together this great team of concerned citizens. It has been great partnering with Tom from the ReBuilding Center, Yianni, the architect, and Josh who has provided the solar panels. I also have to express sincere gratitude to a couple special Trail Blazers fans who funded the project and to the Blazers staff for helping to actually build the homes.”
Tumbleweed, a war veteran with disabilities and proud new owner of a newly constructed tiny house, said, “I’m very grateful and it’s so nice to be warm, dry, with a good lock on the door. Plus, I can’t hear the airplanes anymore and the cedar smells so good!” Various houseless villages around town have been coordinating with each other as part of a larger network. Tom Patzkowski, the ReBuilding Center Store Manager, points out that the project is, “a community collaboration between advocacy groups for people experiencing houselessness, and trades training groups that help disadvantaged youth and adults gain skills that will help them in their future careers, while working together and bonding with others.”
The completion of this first phase of the project allows organizers to reflect on what worked and what didn’t, with aims to construct four more tiny houses equipped with solar panels and to develop a prototype house that will allow groups to build repeatedly and scale up production in the future. The goal is to raise $25,000 in funding to build the next four structures by Labor Day, 2018. In the words of the volunteer Mike Mitchell, who will be serving as project manager for the next phase, “We’re going to figure out how to do things faster and better. We’re all in it together. It’s time to get this done because it’s worth doing. It’s a project with heart.”
For those interested in donating their time, materials, or money to the project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1997, the ReBuilding Center (RBC) builds equitable community through reuse by valuing and activating human and material resources to strengthen the social and environmental fabric of our local communities. RBC deconstructs buildings as an alternative to demolition, salvages and sells materials donated by the public, and invests its profits into its ReFind Education, Volunteer, and Community Outreach programs.